Nigeria ‘Celebrates’ Its Recording Artists With ‘No Music Day’

If you happen to be Nigerian or passing through Nigeria and are looking for a little traveling music or something catchy enough to push the voices in your head out of the way for a few moments, don’t bother turning on your radio. September 1st is “No Music Day” in Nigeria, a new tradition (since 2009!) seeking to “draw national attention to the widespread infringement of the rights of composers, song writers, performers, music publishers and other stakeholders in the music industry in Nigeria.”

As someone who only inadvertently listens to the radio, I can safely state that for many people, a day without a radio broadcast is like Thursday. Or Friday. Or other days of the week. However, for those that do, September 1st will be the day that most will find something else to do rather than listen to an assortment of talking heads speaking loudly about the abuse of the aforementioned traveling music, all the while packing metaphorical 7-piece luggage sets for their listeners’ suprise guilt trips. Perhaps, for example, you might listen to music via a computer or personal listening device which isn’t subject to the whims of people accusing you of being a criminal. And, let’s not get started discussing the possible irony of this effort probably pushing more people to spend their day listening to unlicensed music, rather than licensed music on the radio…

But it’s not just the listeners that are due for a long miserable day of self-righteousness. If you happen to be on the “supply” side of the “debate,” you’d better eat early and often. In fact, you probably should have started carb loading or whatever a couple of weeks ago. (Apologies for the late notice.)

No Music Day 2009 was preceded by a huge rally of Nigerian artistes held at the National Theatre in Lagos and a weeklong Hunger Strike campaign waged by top Nigerian artistes across the nation.

All in all, it sounds like a great day for alleged pirates (yep, that would be everybody listening) and literally starving artists alike. If you can’t make it to Nigeria in time for the “festivities,” keep in mind that it only happens once a year, which should give you plenty of time to make plans to be elsewhere during “You’re-All-A-Bunch-of-Thieves-Fest 2K12.”

Call me crazy (or worse), but couldn’t this be handled in a much more “fan friendly” way? Instead of spending the day talking about everything that’s wrong with the Nigerian music industry, wouldn’t it be better to play some songs and invite the artists to talk about their work and what it means to them? This could be a chance to give smaller artists a chance to be heard and grow their fan bases. Maybe musicians connecting with the public would be more productive than artists treating their audiences like selfish children who need a once-a-year time out.

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